Former unification minister on how to prevent war on Korean Peninsula

Posted on : 2022-10-07 16:58 KST Modified on : 2022-10-07 16:58 KST
Lim Dong-won, who served under President Kim Dae-jung, called on the current administration to declare its adherence to the Sept. 19 military agreement of 2018
Lim Dong-won, who formerly served as unification minister in South Korea, speaks to the Hankyoreh in this undated file photo. (Hankyoreh file photo)
Lim Dong-won, who formerly served as unification minister in South Korea, speaks to the Hankyoreh in this undated file photo. (Hankyoreh file photo)

In light of the rising sense of crisis on the Korean Peninsula as a result of a series of ballistic missile launches by North Korea and military responses from South Korea, former Minister of Unification Lim Dong-won says, “War must be prevented at all costs.”

“It is important to prevent a small clash from spreading into a big war,” he added.

Speaking to the Hankyoreh on Thursday, Lim said, “There is no other way but to effectively manage crises so as to prevent conflict arising from mutual provocations and to continue to make efforts for peace.”

Lim was responsible for the adoption of the Inter-Korean Basic Agreement (Dec. 13, 1991), which defined North-South relations as a “special interim relationship stemming from the process towards reunification,” and the South-North Joint Declaration (June 15, 2000), the first summit declaration made jointly by the two Koreas.

Under the Kim Dae-jung administration, Lim visited North Korea as a presidential envoy and met with then-leader Kim Jong-il five times.

“The Sept. 19 military agreement of 2018 [signed in Pyongyang] is an agreement between the North and the South to prevent minor conflicts from turning into wars,” said Lim. “The Yoon Suk-yeol administration should publicly declare that it will adhere to the agreement and ask North Korea to keep to the agreement as well.”

“North Korea seems to have abandoned hopes of a US-North Korea summit or the normalization of US-North Korea relations and has decided to resolve security issues through nuclear force, the economy through self-reliance, and diplomacy by strengthening relations with China and Russia,” Lim shared.

Without any changes in the situation, Lim predicted that the North will conduct its seventh nuclear test and continue to test-launch missiles.

The former unification minister conceded that the present tension on the Korean Peninsula will be difficult to ease.

“North Korea’s nuclear issue is the product of hostile relations between the US and North Korea, and thus cannot be resolved unless US-North Korea relations are normalized,” he said, adding, “We are in a very difficult situation because the problem cannot be solved without the US’ active intervention.”

Lim also said, “Now is not the time when we can push for a special envoy [to the North] or an inter-Korean summit.”

Nevertheless, Lim claimed that North Korea’s attitude “could change if the US makes a decision.” He elaborated, “The issue will not be solved simply with the South Korean government continuously telling North Korea what to do. We must solve the problem by persuading the US to take part.”

“An opportunity will come along as we put our efforts into crisis management, war prevention, and peacekeeping,” he said.

Lim proposed four-way talks involving South Korea, North Korea, the US and China as a way to stabilize the situation on the Korean Peninsula. “To make peace, it is time to consider pushing for four-way peace talks,” he said.

By Lee Je-hun, staff reporter

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